Fr. Santosh Madanu: The Transfiguration of the Lord

Sermon delivered on Transfiguration Sunday C, March 3, 2019 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: Exodus 34.29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3.12-4.2; Luke 9.28b-43.

Prayer: Dear Jesus you are the image of invisible God in whom the divinity confirmed.   Thy kingdom once concealed on the earth now revealed through you. Bless me to behold your beauty with my unworthy eyes and experience with my heart and mind of your supernatural glory. Amen.

A week before the Transfiguration, Jesus had promised to His disciples: “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”   The transfiguration is now part of the fulfilment of this promise which would really be fulfilled at Jesus’ resurrection.   The disciples were experiencing the foretaste of the glory and power of God’s kingdom.   God gave them this experience to strengthen their faith and to assure them that the Man of Nazareth was really His beloved Son, the promised Messiah.

 Jesus’ suffering, passion and death are necessary to redeem mankind from the slavery of sin and evil; and with His resurrection bring glory to God and eternal life with him. This is the purpose of transfiguration that we experience supernatural glory in heaven for ever though we have to face sad situations, fears of future and when our dreams are shattered at present life.

Like Peter we wanted to perpetuate the glory of Jesus without any kind of sufferings and struggles. I am not prepared to deal with problems and challenges of daily life.  So I would say like Peter “It is good for us to be here.”

A). It is good for us to be with Jesus: This one hour that we spend together in service is a blessed hour in communion with Jesus.  We partake in His Holy meal, we sing Holy, Holy and Holy.  It is a moment of peace and of fellowship with God.  It is good to be with Jesus.  It is indeed necessary to be with the Lord Jesus.

B). It is good for us to be with Moses too.  We need to hear the Commandments, who call us to repentance and show us how to walk according to God’s will. We cannot just take sweet drink; but we have to accept some bitter medicine as well.  If people would listen to the 10 Commandments more, the world would not be as bad as it is.  For us it is good to be with Moses; it gives us security; because Moses is not alone, but he comes with Jesus, who reaches His hand to help us as we are unable to obey 100% the Commandments. Don’t you think so!  It is good to be with Moses.

C). It is good to be with Elijah, the prophet.   Elijah called the king and the people of his time back to the true faith.  Elijah and the other prophets pointed to the Messiah; and we know that those prophecies were accomplished in Jesus.  God is faithful in what He promises.  We can be sure about what He promises to us as well.  And the biggest promise were accomplished in Jesus: Promise of Forgiveness and Eternal Life.

Moses and Elijah actually stand for the Old Testament itself.  Moses for the law and Elijah for the prophets.  And the Christ is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. (Mt 5:17).   They also stand for the living and dead, for Moses died and his burial place is known, while Elijah was taken alive into heaven in order to appear again to announce the time of God’s salvation in Christ the Messiah.  Notice also how Moses and Elijah give the vision for what Christ is about to do in His final journey to Jerusalem.   The vision is of a new Exodus.  Just as Moses led the Israel out of slavery in Egypt by the blood of the lamb at Passover and parted waters (Baptism) of Red sea, so now Jesus would lead His people out (an exodus) from slavery and sin by the blood of the Lamb of God -Jesus

D). It is good for us to be with Peter, James and John.  They were eyewitnesses of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  When we read what they wrote in the Bible, it is like to be with them and to enjoy their telling the stories and sharing with us their faith and life experiences.  Peter wrote (2 Peter1:16-18): “For we did not follow the very cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were the eye witnesses of His majesty.  He received the honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain.”  This gives us confidence that the Bible is really the word of God!

God of History- Jesus indeed lived with His people, walked with His people, talked with His people and shared their pain and joy. We have historical reasons to believe in Jesus. And let us know this, being good Christian is being in intimate in relationship with Jesus, experience day by day His love and to live objectively good life.

If we were chosen to take the place of Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor, this would be nothing less than our first glimpse of Jesus and our heaven (Just imagine the story of Transfiguration).  We would use the apostles’ words: “Lord, it is good for us to be here: we would tell Jesus, we are not leaving this place, we got this- we are not going anywhere.  We are staying here forever.

Transfiguration is the glorious vision that sheds the light on the meaning of our life. It shows us again and again that God can make a way out of no way. We see in the transfiguration of the Lord, the heaven opened and the Glory of God is being revealed.  The transfiguration is the event that we should experience now, today.  God’s greatest demonstration of love for us is shown through Jesus Christ.  We should never miss this reward of heaven and boundless love of God in Christ.

We live in age of so much talking and so much noise that it is becoming harder and harder to hear the voice of God which often comes, as it did for the prophet Elijah on mount Carmel, in the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit, in the whispers of daily events.

Therefore it is good for us to be with Jesus, Moses, Elijah and the apostles, to be strengthened in our faith and encouraged in our life.  After the transfiguration Moses and Elijah went back to the glory of God, where all our beloved ones and forefathers are.  But the glorious end has not come to us.  After being with Jesus, we have to go down the mountain, like Jesus and the disciples after the transfiguration.  Jesus has to face suffering and death, as we will remember it during the Lent Season, which begins this week on Ash Wednesday.  We have to face Lent season in our lives as well.  We know life is not easy.  Every one of us has temptations and sufferings to carry.  But after being with Jesus, we know and believe that we can lift up our eyes from the darkness and dirt of this world to the glory of the Resurrected Jesus!  Like the apostles we are comforted in hope remembering the experience of the Transfiguration.

Jesus confirming peter’s confession through this feast of Transfiguration that he is the true messiah and true son of God.  This is the spiritual revelation that we all need to experience.

Prayer: Thank you Father God for your grace to know you and to love you.  Let me see your glory as I partake in the holy communion of your Son Jesus. Amen.